30 years ago a unique vil­lage was born

Mt Hotham Falls Creek - - FRONT PAGE -

THIRTY years have passed since renowned ar­chi­tect Peter McIn­tyre trans­formed a va­cant area of land high in the Vic­to­rian Alps into ar­guably Aus­tralia’s most unique vil­lage – Din­ner Plain.

“No one else has ac­tu­ally taken a green­field site and built a whole 5000-bed vil­lage in Aus­tralia since the Gold Rush,” says McIn­tyre.

“It was a pretty unique project, so in my ca­reer it’s one of the most unique things I’ve done.”

An en­tire vil­lage of mul­ti­p­itched roofs sup­ported by build­ings of stone, wood and cor­ru­gated iron – and painted the colours of snow gums – blend­ing har­mo­niously with the rugged beauty of the sur­round­ing Alpine Na­tional Park.

It was an at­tempt to cre­ate an Aus­tralian alpine ar­chi­tec­tural iden­tity, in­spired by the cat­tle­men’s huts that sit above the snow­line.

With each of th­ese homes in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed, McIn­tyre achieved some­thing new in Aus­tralian ar­chi­tec­ture – a vil­lage with a sense of unity, but with­out repet­i­tive­ness.

“Now you get that in a Euro­pean vil­lage of 400 or 500 years old, and it hap­pened then be­cause the materials were lim­ited; they could only get materials that were avail- able to them within a short dis­tance,” McIn­tyre ex­plains.

“Ev­ery­one did their own build­ing, so there were in­di­vid­ual de­signs, but they all used the same ma­te­rial.”

In 1987, McIn­tyre won Aus­tralia’s top ar­chi­tec­ture award – the Royal Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects Sir Zel­man Cowen Medal – for the de­sign of Din­ner Plain Alpine Vil­lage.

He was awarded the RAIA Gold Medal for his life’s work three years later in 1990.

The first build­ing – the Din­ner Plain Ho­tel – opened on June 8, 1986, with some dis­play homes open­ing soon af­ter.

Din­ner Plain has since de­vel­oped into a pop­u­lar win­ter es­cape, and the Din­ner Plain Ho­tel con­tin­ues to be a mustdo pub stop along the Great Alpine Road.

McIn­tyre de­signed the Mas­ter Plan for Din­ner Plain and the in­di­vid­ual houses on the eastern side of the vil­lage.

De­vel­op­ment of the western side, while re­tain­ing much of the key guide­lines of the plan, has al­lowed var­i­ous ar­chi­tects to put their stamp on McIn­tyre’s vi­sion.

McIn­tyre will be a guest of hon­our at the Din­ner Plain 30th An­niver­sary Gala Din­ner at the Din­ner Plain Ho­tel on Sun­day night.

START­ING OUT: The first open for in­spec­tion day in Din­ner Plain. Peter McIn­tyre (blue hat) John Cas­tran (green jumper) and He­len Grant (kneel­ing in navy). The three were key fig­ures in Din­ner Plain’s de­vel­op­ment and Mr Cas­tran con­tin­ues to have a big pres­ence in the vil­lage to­day. On this day they were un­load­ing a trailer of goods to fur­nish the first two dis­play houses on the site - Wat­tle Cir­cle and Jacky John­son. They came across a chap prac­tis­ing his bag­pipes (his wife couldn’t stand the noise and he had gone to Din­ner Plain to prac­tice). They laughed and sang for half an hour. The other peo­ple in the photo were a fam­ily just out for a drive.

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